One of the most remote, and isolated, populated islands in the world, Easter Island is a small Polynesian island in the southeastern Pacific Ocean. Some 2,075 kilometres from the nearest civilisation (Pitcairn Island), it lies at the southeasternmost point of the Polynesian Triangle as a special territory of Chile. According to the most recent census, there are now about 5,800 people living on the island, of which around 60% are direct descendants of the aboriginal Rapa Nui.
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, of which much is safeguarded within Rapa Nui National Park, Easter Island is famous for its legendary and imposing giant stone monoliths, or Moai as they are more generally referred to, which dramatically flank its coastal hills. Skillfully sculpted by the Rapa Nui, the first settlers who arrived somewhere around 1200 years ago, the statues were made out of the soft tuff of the nearby Rano Raraku volcano. The purpose of their construction, and in such big numbers (there are 887 of them throughout the island) are unclear. Though what is clear is that their creation severely reduced the island’s forestry. Thousands of trees are estimated to have been felled and its lumber employed as rollers to transport the Moai across the area.
Beyond the statues Easter Island is a place with a fascinating history and culture. In the 16th century more than 15,000 Rapa Nui are believed to have inhabited the island, creating the only known written language in Oceania as well as a legacy of rock carvings, dance, music and tattooing. Yet by the time Captain James Cook arrived in 1775, as a consequence of diminishing resources, slave raiding, diseases brought by previous European Sailors, internal warfare, famine and cannabalism there were only 630 people left.
Today Easter Island is heavily dependent on tourism, with thousands of visitors flocking there every year, attracted by its rich, controversial and colourful history, isolation, sense of mystique and dramatic coastal views. Served by the Mataveri International Airport, there are a number of decent hotels in Easter Island to choose from ranging from the luxury 5 star Hotel Altiplanico Easter Island to the popular budget option of the Cabanas Morerava.
For a full list check out this selection of Easter Island accommodation options.